Computer mice. They’re about as exciting as bars of soap. Heck, earlier models even looked a lot like soap. Yet in the very same way as computers began to evolve, these rodents have gone through changes too. Mechanical mice turned to optical mice, which then became laser mice. One-button mice improved to two buttons, then three, and later the scroll wheel appeared. Basically, today’s mouse has evolved from its ancestors at a slow tempo, leisurely trucking along until something exciting happens.

Logitech made a big splash after being the first to market a laser mouse, the Today, Logitech makes an ever bigger splash with the release of two new high-end mice—the MX Revolution Cordless Laser Mouse and the VX Revolution Cordless Laser Mouse for Notebooks. Today, we take an in-depth look at the MX. As the name suggests, these aren’t just evolutionary upgrades from their predecessors: They’re more like quantum leaps—new wheels, new buttons, and an aggressive design that intrigues the eye.

Compairison

Aside from its laser sensor, range of up to 30 feet, and longer battery time than most cordless mice, the Revolution MX has four distinct, new features that could very well change how we navigate through files and programs. Logitech goes so far as to bill the MX as “the world’s most advanced mouse.”

At the top of the list of innovations is the huge upgrade to the scroll wheel, which has two modes of operation—line-by-line scrolling and free-spin scrolling. Free-spin scrolling allows the scroll wheel to become a flywheel capable of traversing thousands of spreadsheet rows or hundreds of word-processing pages with a single flick. Other advanced new features are the document quick flip wheel (or button), one-button search, and a zoom slider. All of these buttons could add up to an overload of options, yet with Logitech’s software, SetPoint, customizing them to fit your needs is a snap.

So is the “world’s most advanced mouse” really the “world’s best mouse”? We cleared some space for these rodents, tested them out for a few weeks, and decided to get to the bottom of that question.

Four Cool New Features You can’t hail a mouse as being the “world’s most advanced” without some new, nifty features, right? The MX and VX have four standout new features to distance it from your current, modest mouse. These are the MicroGear Precision Scroll Wheel, Document Quick-Flip, the One-Touch Search button, and the Zoom slider. The Zoom slider exists on the VX only.

Reinventing the Scroll Wheel
At the center of Logitech’s extreme mouse makeover is the MicroGear Precision Scroll Wheel, a wheel that surpasses its predecessors with its features, intelligence, quality of build, and tweaking options. Intelligence? We’ll get to that in a minute.

Logitech’s newest scroll wheel has two modes of operation—the clicky, line-by line scrolling mode that we’re all accustomed to, and a free-spin mode. The free-spin mode allows the scroll wheel to retract from a ratchet mechanism to become a flywheel, capable of spinning for up to 7 seconds from a single flick of the finger, scrolling through virtually thousands of spreadsheet rows or hundreds of word-processing pages. If hyperscrolling isn’t your cup of tea in free-spinning mode, you can just use the wheel slowly to glide more precisely across a document or photo without the clicky, jumpy scrolling. You can switch between modes on the fly by clicking on the scroll wheel. Doing so will sacrifice that precious middle click button many of us have grown to use on a daily basis. If you absolutely can’t live without your middle click, you can disable manual mode switching in the SetPoint software and reassign the middle click to the scroll wheel.

Now, how is this scroll wheel intelligent? For starters, if you are in line-by-line scrolling mode, you can activate the free-spin mode based on how hard you flick the scroll wheel. Basically, the wheel detects how fast the wheel is spinning in line-by-line mode to determine when to switch to free-spinning mode. If you’re in a program and you want to scroll down the page a long distance, quickly flicking the scroll wheel instructs the scroll wheel to enter free-spin mode automatically. When the wheel stops spinning, either on its own or by your pressing on it, the wheel resumes normal line-by-line clicky scrolling mode.

Reinvented

Wheel Reinvented
The MX is governed by SmartShift Technology, which detects and automatically fine-tunes the scrolling mode depending on the application currently active. For instance, opening up Microsoft Word will instruct the mouse to enter free-spin mode to permit users to quickly navigate through pages, but switching over to Excel will then reactivate the ratchet for line-by-line scrolling. If you disagree with Logitech’s default rule for the program you’re in, you can simply click the mouse to enter the other mode, and the SmartShift technology will remember that the next time you enter that particular program. You can also define how much flick force is required to enter free-spin mode by tweaking some settings in Logitech’s SetPoint software. And if you’re not a fan of this flywheel thing, you can disable the mouse from entering free-spin mode automatically in the software, as well. We’ll go into software details later.

In addition to these features, the scroll wheel can also be clicked over to the right or left for horizontal scrolling.

Document Flip
Located within the thumb rest on the Revolution MX is the Document Quick-Flip wheel that, when pressed, brings up a window of current programs running. Nudging the wheel up or down scrolls through this list, letting you select your program of choice. This gives users a newer way to access files or programs quickly without using the taskbar. This can save you time if you get into the habit of using it

Quick-Flip Wheel

One Touch Search Button
Where would we be without search these days? The likes of Yahoo!, Google, and other search juggernauts have not only changed how we surf the Internet, but have also become the solution to questions we can’t answer off the cuff.

Logitech satisfies this demand by giving users the power to search the Internet just by clicking one button. Users can do a search on a highlighted word or phrase and have Yahoo! LiveWords pop up or open a tab automatically and display results in Google or Yahoo. Pressing the button without any word highlighted will simply take you to Google or Yahoo’s home page.

Search

A Close Look at the MX Revolution Okay, so we’re being a bit long-winded about the new whiz-bang features of these mice, now let’s take a look at the nitty gritty of the MX Revolution’s design, buttons, power consumption, and more.

The MX communicates wirelessly with a USB receiver via 2.4 GHz and can deliver range of up to 30 feet. It’s powered by an integrated Li-Ion battery and includes a battery charger to dock the mouse. There’s a four-level battery indicator LED on the mouse to help you monitor your battery strength. The MX is Windows XP and Vista compatible, and supports Mac OS X as well.

Charger

The MX is guided by a laser sensor roughly the size of a human hair, which promises improved tracking accuracy on tricky surfaces and consumes less power. At 800 DPI, it’s not nearly as hi-res as the high-end gaming mice some of us are used to.

The scroll wheel is metal and heavy-duty enough to sustain up to 7 seconds of free spinning (obviously a strong flick of the finger in this case). The tread surface of the wheel has a textured rubber-grip for added traction. The document flip button also has this type of ruggedness. Below the scroll wheel is the One Touch Search button. The button is easily out of the way yet quick to access.

Two Wheels

Design
The MX’s ambitious design has a striking and prominent thumb rest area. Many other mice have grooves or a floor for the thumb, but the MX definitely wins for having a huge sculpted curve. And why not? Above this area are two buttons for navigation, usually defaulted as forward and back buttons, and at the tip of the thumb is the document flip wheel. This area is also molded with a nice rubber grip. There’s no lefty version available at this point.

Design

The other side of the mouse doesn’t have the same rubber surface as in the thumb wrest area but is coated with a graspable exterior that cups inward a bit.

Below the mouse are four low-friction polytetrafluoroethylene (aka Teflon) feet to reduce resistance and allow for smooth gliding across any surface. There’s also an on/off switch to save power when the mouse is not in use.

Using the MX Revolution The MX Revolution is noticeably heavier and bulkier than most mice out there, allowing users to “palm” the mouse if they desire. The shape and design conform to the hand comfortably; our thumb stretched out on its rest area and planted itself on the Document Flip Wheel. We suspected that our thumb would commit accidental clicks on this wheel during use, but we didn’t run into that problem, because the wheel requires a firm push or forward or back nudge. Some people with smaller hands may also opt to position their thumb in front of the Document Flip wheel when gripping the mouse. The buttons just above the thumb are just as easy to access. They are high enough that the thumb doesn’t rest against them, yet are close enough so you can reach up and give them quick press.

We had no need to adjust the mouse’s pointer speed. The DPI seemed to be just right for us. Given the mouse’s bulky size and ability to tread across any surface, we ditched the mouse pad and let it comfortably slide across the desk. The mouse worked like a charm from a distance and on varying surfaces. We used the mouse on boxes and on distant walls and detected no noticeable lag. Many cordless mice have lag problems or problems with jumpiness when the mouse is far from the receiver. We were surprised that at a distance of about 20 feet and on different flat surfaces, the mouse didn’t stutter at all.

Scroll Wheelin’
The scroll wheel has firm detents in line-by-line scrolling mode, which can be a bit noisy. In free-spin mode, the wheel is completely silent. The scroll wheel took some time to get used to when switching from one mode to the next automatically. A common problem was the wheel disengaging into freewheel mode too early when all we wanted was to move down a few pages. Logitech is not ignorant of this problem, as they’ve offered several ways to adjust the wheel to your liking, whether by adjusting its scrolling speed, tweaking the force required to enter free-spin mode, toggling from one mode to the next, or even disabling the feature completely via the software.

Since we wanted more control telling the wheel when to enter free-spin mode, we went into the software and instructed it to require more force when flicking the wheel before entering free-spin mode. This way, we can give it a little extra force than usual if we really want our scrolling to move quickly. As an experiment, we launched Excel, flicked the wheel, and jumped down 15,000 lines until the mouse stopped spinning.

Accessing programs via the Taskbar doesn’t require much work in the first place, so we didn’t find ourselves using the Document Flip wheel very often. In fact, clicking in the south of the monitor has been ingrained in us, becoming almost instinctual since the days of Windows 95.

It’s easy to press the wheel and to nudge it up and down to highlight the program of choice. We’re not stuck on using it every day, but it is helpful if there’s a mouthful of applications already open and you’d like to see a vertical list of them all.

document_flip1.jpg

One Touch Search
The One-Touch-Search button definitely felt like a luxury. We made the default search engine Google and were able to search for terms on the fly. It was, however, a bit buggy at times across certain applications by opening up more than one tab at a time and displaying the same search results.

search1.jpg

Battery
Compared with some Logitech mice, the MX lasted a very long time. We never turned it off, and were able to run it down after a little over a week. The mouse has varying amounts of sleep mode depending on how long it’s idle.

Gaming
Logitech has a slew of gaming mice. The MX Revolution is not advertised as one, but we definitely had to get our game on to see if it has the horsepower to sustain long gaming sessions and precision-needing games. We launched some FPS games to test it under fire.

We didn’t experience any burps during gameplay. No lags. The sensitivity was on-target, and aiming in certain games showed no sign of stutter. Picking up the mouse was very easy. Be careful not to press the document flip button or quick search buttons during gameplay, as the window may minimize and halt the game. This is the painful equivalent of Alt-Enter.

Using Photoshop
To get a really good sense of the MX’s subtle movement, we launched Photoshop and opened some images that needed work. Photoshop has a feature in which you manually draw an outline around an image with a tool called the lasso. Since you can freely select an image by drawing a boundary around it, you need a precise and accurate mouse or pen digitizer to make the image look flawless. This requires some skill and a steady hand—and most certainly a mouse that’s up to the challenge.

The MX performed with ease, hugging our images without any noticeable jumps. The scroll wheel can act either as a zoom tool or can scroll up and down, and it was nice to be able to nudge our image over horizontally with the scroll wheel, too. We tested the mouse in Photoshop from a distance to measure its range and precision and drew circles with the brush tool just as precisely as if we were sitting right at the computer. This is quite an improvement over other wireless mice.

In-depth Look at Logitech’s SetPoint Software Logitech’s included software, SetPoint, is by far the most advanced software out there for input devices. Its intuitive interface provides users with many options to fine-tune your mouse while also monitoring your mouse’s status. Because the MX and VX Revolution line come with a variety of new features, SetPoint bundles far more tweaking options than ever.
SetPoint goes beyond generic settings like adjusting the pointer speed or adding pointer trails. The first menu allows users to reassign each button for a variety of tasks. A list of common commands is at your disposal, and a longer list is available if you select the “Other” tag.
If you want the mouse to behave differently in a different program, you can select a program from a drop-down list and reassign the buttons based on that program. This can be pretty handy if you don’t agree with the automatic recalibration the software makes based on the program you’re in.

You can really spend some time fine-tuning the scroll wheel to fit your comfort level. Both the MX and VX have tweaking options to adjust the scrolling sensitivity. Since you can scroll vertically and horizontally, you can adjust how much scrolling is done on one click or detent. For instance, a slow speed might be where your browser jumps two or three lines down a page when one detent is registered, which is pretty modest. But if you bump up the acceleration, you can have it really jump down the page, 10 or more lines. You can do the same with horizontal scrolling.

When you get a sense of what you like and don’t like about the advanced scroll wheel, you can customize it in the software. You can disable the software from entering free-spin mode automatically, if you want, or even adjust how hard of a flick is required before it enters free-spin mode. This is also where you can tweak SetPoint into bringing back that middle click button many of us can’t live without.

The other new feature we spotted with the software is the ability to track your battery’s status. This will show you how long the battery is expected to last, not just the percentage. The software records your usage and determines how many days, or hours, is expected for the mouse to last based on your habits. When the battery is running low, a popup will remind you to charge that battery soon. You can also hover over the SetPoint icon in your system try to bring up a popup that informs you on your mouse’s status.

charger.png

You can apply a modest number of game settings to either mouse, but they don’t go far. In the past, Logitech’s gaming mice had an advanced game settings menu that permitted users to adjust the mouse’s DPI, and even adjust X and Y coordinates for some games.

Final Thoughts The MX Revolution Cordless Laser Mouse deserves to be lumped into the same category as the Six Million Dollar Man or Bionic Woman. It’s certainly one of a kind, possessing far more features and a unique look and feel unlike any other mouse out there. Logitech has unloaded a bombshell with this mouse, slapping us with something we didn’t expect.

But this feat of Logitech begs one question: “Is all this really necessary?” The easy answer is no. But the Revolution mice do introduce features that can very well adapt to our mousing habits and improve the computer experience. Its scroll wheel is out of left field, but we were duly impressed with its technology and execution. Though scrolling or navigating down a page using the scroll bar are easy enough with a regular mouse, the Revolution’s scroll wheel, with practice, can be fine-tuned to become one’s best friend.

Other new and advanced features, such as a document flip wheel (or button) and one-button search, add to this mouse’s arsenal. The document flip button allows you to quickly access programs and files currently active. The search button makes it easy to search on highlighted text or simply pull up your favorite search engine on the fly.

The MX does come with a learning curve. You’ll have to consciously remind yourself to use some new features, and you might not like them at first. But, again, with practice, they can really become part of your mousing habits.

At $99.99 the MX Revolution is pretty high-ticket, even for a high-end mouse. But that’s pretty much what you’ll have to pony up at this point if you want to own the world’s most advanced—and best—mouse period.

Product: MX Revolution Cordless Laser Mouse
Company: Logitech
Price: $99.99
Pros: Cordless; superb precision; dual-mode scroll wheel; stylish and comfortable design; search button; document flip wheel; SetPoint software; great range and battery life.
Cons: $99 for a mouse hard to swallow; bit of a learning curve to adjust to the scroll wheel; no lefty version available.
Summary: You’re paying top dollar for the best mouse, period. Other than the price, there’s nothing else that we can really complain about with the MX.
Rating: 9 out of 10

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